The first step in revamping the War on Drugs in Latin America, is admitting that current policies have failed to produce a reduction in drug trafficking and have contributed to instability and insecurity in this region.1 The current efforts are prohibitionist policies “based on the eradication of production and on the disruption of drug flows as well as on the criminalization of consumption.”2 Prohibitionist theory assumes that reducing the production and supply of drugs through the use of law enforcement will drive up prices so that “drugs become less attractive to users on the demand side.”3 Prohibitionist polices become reliant upon law enforcement and public health initiatives to serve as a major deterrent for drug consumption and “sending a message about the unacceptability and risk of drug use.”4 Prohibitionist policies have had unexpected social consequences due to the severe laws for drug offenses and have resulted in a massive surge of court caseloads and overcrowded prisons.5 Also, due to increasingly combative attitude towards drug traffickers and consumers, there have been violations in fundamental human rights due to the over-reliance on penalties and repression.6 “The failed war on drugs has contributed to the growth of Latin America as one of the most violent regions of the planet, measured by levels of homicidal violence and executions, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and denial of basic health services.”7
Combatting Criminal Threats Within
Currently, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) helps foreign partners build capacity to address crime by supporting law enforcement cooperation across borders and through the use of training materials to addre...
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...9 and the Colombian government is going against prohibitionist policies established by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration by allowing farmers to grow small quantities of cocaine.20 Chile has also allowed the harvesting of medical marijuana.21 Latin American countries are attempting to diminish the bloodshed from the drug trade and relieve prison systems strained by surging inmate populations by decriminalizing drug use.22 From creating legal, government-regulated markets to allowing armed forces to shoot down planes suspected of carrying drugs, Latin American countries are experimenting with different methods of controlling drug consumption despite not having concrete plans.23 New INL policies should allow the continued exploration and support of these policies as Latin American countries establish methods to effectively combat the illegal drug trade.
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